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Chapter 2: Sociological Inquiry

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Ch 2 

Auguste Comte – developed the concept of sociology based on the methods used in the physical sciences

Scientific Method – the process a sociologist uses to develop and test theories


1, Defining the question or problem 

2. Review the Literature (study what is already known about the topic) 

3. Develop a hypothesis 

Validity-  the extent that the study measures what it claims to measure

Operational definition –  a clear, concise, and observable measure of the variable, of the term “bullying” so there is no misunderstanding of what constitutes bullying among undergraduates.

Step 4 – Choose a research design and methods 

Quantitive research data – data collection that focuses on exploring correlations by using systematic, numerical, and other objective measures to generalize across groups of people 

Qualitative Research Data – data collection using interviews, fieldwork, observation, photos, text, and other subjective measures

Step 5 – collect data 

Institutional review board – a committee that reviews research proposals to protect the rights and welfare of human participants in research

Step 6 –Analyze the data 

Step 7 – Develop conclusion

Step 8 – report results and ask new questions 

The quantitative approach seeks to quantify data and generalize results from a sample to the population of interest. Qualitative research aims to uncover the underlying reasons, motivations, opinions, and prevalent trends among individuals, groups, and artifacts. The goal is not to generalize the findings to a larger population. 

longitudinal design – the repeated observation of the same subjects over a duration of time, is a research method that can require years or decades to complete. 

SURVAY –  a series of questions used to extract specific information from respondents, can be an economical method that provides a quick turnaround, especially when conducted online.

Experiment – the use of two or more groups in which one group is exposed to a factor being examined (HP), is more common among psychologists and medical researchers than sociologists. 

Experiment groups – the study subjects exposed to the independent variable

Control Group = the study subjects who are not exposed to the independent variable and are used as a reference group

Ethnography –   a descriptive account of social life and culture in a particular social system derived from the researcher being embedded over time within a group, organization, or community. Ethnographic work is a type of field research involving the researcher probing deeply into people’s everyday lives for an extended period to provide a complete picture of the lives of those in the group.

Focus Group – a small group interview or guided discussion using a moderator to gain insight into the participants’ opinions on specific topics 

Group Think –  the tendency of group members to yield to the desire for consensus rather than expressing individual or alternative ideas. Untrained and inexperienced facilitators/moderators can also skew or limit the results. 

Content Analysis – systematic method of assigning codes to text, video, music, and other media to analyze and infer patterns.

Snowball Sampling – a process in which people in the group being studied introduce the researcher to other people to study 

Time Diary Method – a research method in which subjects track their actions at various points in time over several days.

Hawthorne – the tendency of people to change their behavior when they know they are being watched. 

Ethics – principles of conduct about how you are supposed to behave in a given situation. Ethics in sociology underwent a significant transformation in the 1970s after several research studies forced the discipline to consider the rights and protections of research subjects. 

Case Study – an in-depth analysis of a particular person, place, or event over a significant period. 

Verstehen – an empathetic approach to understanding human behavior (HP). Verstehen means that you take the time to understand the individuals’ experiences from their point of view.

Anna Julia Cooper – obtained her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in Paris, and wrote A Voice from the South: By A Woman from the South, a title many see as the first example of Black feminism.

Beatrice Potter Webb – was an English sociologist whose tutors included British social theorist Herbert Spencer. Webb was a researcher and taught sociology. She coauthored eleven books in conjunction with her husband, Sidney, and was instrumental in the British welfare system’s social reform.

Sophonisba Breckinridge – attended Wellesley College, received her law degree, and was the first woman admitted to the Kentucky bar association. Breckinridge worked with the Chicago Hull-House project and eventually became a dedicated academic who wrote extensively on family and public welfare issues. Breckinridge went on to cofound the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

Marianne Weber – She authored nine sociology and social analysis books and was the first woman elected to the German parliament. Upon her husband Max Weber’s death, she was instrumental in publishing ten of his works and authoring his biography.